England have won the first Test at Lord’s, beating India by a huge margin of 196 runs. However, India lost the draw, by a small margin of half a session.
Were India under prepared?
England, put into bat, dominated the match, ever since Zaheer Khan injured his hamstring, on the afternoon of the first day. However, it is unfair to say that India were unprepared and used it as a warm up game.
In fact, the previous West Indies series was a prep series, where Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma built their confidence. But on the first day, only Zaheer got India the breaks. More than preparation it was the inexperience of Ishant/Praveen to bowl the fuller lengths, which let the crucial morning session slip by. They did bowl fuller later and reaped rewards, but well after India lost the initiative of the toss. They were the ones who were not rusty. Can happen on a first series abroad.
Then Dravid and Dhoni dropped Trott. It happens. They too went to West Indies. Not rusty.
Zaheer Khan has had injury breakdowns in the past, but he has also been the man of the series for India, just as often. So as fans, we can do better by supporting him.
Now the batting…
A total of 350+ looked very much on, after Dravid-Tendulkar’s pro-active partnership of 80 runs, got India closer to 200. Tendulkar failed to get the elusive ton, but his innings was useful nonetheless, as this partnership was the highest in the first innings. However, VVS Laxman, Raina, and Harbhajan who had a good series in West Indies had soft dismissals in the first innings. This meant that India were bundled under 300. But they were the ones who were not rusty for sure. Credit the English bowlers for working them out.
Note: Tendulkar had fever later or batted with it, and Gambhir was struck below the elbow, fielding at short leg. Not exacty in one’s control.
Anderson’s bowling was not spot on in the first innings. Both Cook and Strauss could not get going with the scoring too. Morgan looked out of sorts about walking/waiting for a decision. Rusty? Perhaps not worth looking into, since England won.
So why did India lose? Not rustiness…
In a nutshell, England-India contests have been close contests since ’07, England last won a Test vs India, in 2005. It was going to happen again someday. It did. Considering so many things that went wrong for India, some not quite in our control, India did well to lose the draw by just half-session.
Congratulations to England. They desrved the win.
Let us move on to the next Test, there is no time in cricket these days to get rusty, even if you choose too.